Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez
"LOST TREASURE IN THE PINELANDS"
New Jersey is rich with history, including Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and beyond. Scattered throughout the pinelands are places of historical significance that have been lost or have been forgotten with time.
One of these forgotten places is in the Wharton State Forest near the 50-mile Batona wilderness trail. The trail weaves through the scrub pines between Lebanon State Forest, through Wharton State Forest, and Bass River State Forest.
Hidden in the scrub pines at Sandy Ridge is a quiet desolate lonely place missed by many hikers, bicyclists, and motorists alike that pass within yards. This quiet serene spot near Sandy Ridge echoes many sounds and voices from the past, but only if you look and listen within care.
Rising from the ground and reaching for the sky stands a stone monument paid for by the Children of Mexico. The children saved their pesos to quarry stone from Coauila, Mexico, the birthplace of their Hero. The stone was cut and fitted into a monument. Afterwards the monument was disassembled and shipped to Mount Holly, NJ. then taken and erected in Chatsworth, NJ.
The Monument stands high reaching into the deep blue sky. On one weather worn side you can still see the name of "Emilio Carranza". Emilio was an aviation pioneer similar to our own Charles Lindbergh. References are still found and made about Emilio Carranza as "The Lindbergh of Mexico".
Charles Lindbergh had made a goodwill flight to Mexico City, and had become a close friend of Emilio. The two spent time together and probably talked about their one and only dream and aspiration, Aviation.
On June 11th, 1928 Emilio embarked on a goodwill mission from Mexico City to Washington, DC. Due to heavy rains and very bad weather he was forced to land in Mooresville, NC, just 300 miles short of his destination. The next day Emilio took off from Mooresville, NC and Landed in Washington DC. Military bands, reporters from around the world, and even President Calvin Coolidge, greeted him.
On June 17th, 1928 Emilio left for New York City and arrived as planned. Emilio had planned leaving New York on July 3rd and flying non-stop to Mexico City. Bad weather conditions delayed his departure several times. Finally after a well-advertised departure he attempted to initiate his flight to Mexico City on July 12th. After many Airport Officials and the U.S. Weather Bureau gave warnings and weather reports of a pending electrical storm, Captain Emilio Carranza had canceled his departure once more and ordered his airplane hangared. The airport officials were relived at his decision and most of them had departed the airport.
Emilio's dinner was interrupted by a telegram that arrived. The telegram was from his Superior Officer, General Joaquin Amaro, which ordered his immediate return.
On July 12th, 1928 at 7:18 in the evening Captain Emilio Carranza lifted off Roosevelt Airport in New York City, disregarding a tremendous electrical storm in progress. Emilio and his plane disappeared into the silence of the menacing storm.
The next day around 3:25 p.m. on July 13th at Sandy Ridge John Carr, while picking berries with his mother and sister, found part of a wing. The wing turned out to be from the Mexico Excelsior, Emilio's plane. The authorities were mobilized and the death of the Mexican hero was confirmed.
Many local children attend school and never hear or read about Emilio Carranza. Without this knowledge they cannot look for or visit The Carranza Memorial at Carranza Park on Carranza Road. Many local residents that have lived in the area for many years have no knowledge of Carranza.
73 years ago Emilio's Life, Emilio's flight, and Emilio's goal were all cut short. It is in his memory and in our own interest that we are obligated to complete his voyage and fulfill his dream of Peace and Goodwill between nations.
Post 11 of The American Legion holds an annual Memorial Service at the crash site on the Saturday closest to the crash date of July 12 at 1:00 p.m. The service is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.
Carranza Park is open every day just as Wharton State Forest. No pass or admission is necessary to visit the memorial.